I forgot how I learned about this comic book. I bought it in a 2-for-1 deal at Barnes & Noble so it’s possible that it was just the cover and synopsis that caught my attention. Such is usually the case with comic books. If someone hasn’t recommended a comic book to me, then I’ll buy one based on the cover art and the illustrations within. As I’ve said in this Weekend Reads post, my interest in comics is driven by my love of illustrations. They are often what keeps me returning to some stories.
Birthright, Vol. 1: Homecoming by Joshua Williamson, illus. by Andrei Bressan with colors by Adriano Lucas
The Rhodes family lost their youngest son, Mikey, on his birthday. His father was out playing catch with him while his mother and older brother planned his surprise party. But when he went into the woods to find a ball his father threw at him, he instead found a world called Terrenos and learned that he is the prophesied Hero who would save Terrenos from the God King Lore, a powerful being that terrorizes the world and its citizens.
While Mikey is in Terrenos, his family in the real world is ripped apart by his disappearance. But a year after his disappearance, the police calls Mikey’s parents and older brother to the station to identify an unusual man who claims to be Mikey returned from a world called Terrenos. They are all shocked and wonder why is he dressed like “a Lord of the Rings reject.” Mikey’s mother refuses to believe the oddly dressed man could be her lost son, but Mikey’s father and brother recognize him and help him to escape the police’s confines and join him on his quest to defeat five mages currently in the real world so that the doors to Terranos will be closed forever.
I was told by some that this comic isn’t all that great, but I enjoyed it. Despite all that happens in the first volume, it felt like a hint, just a taste, of the larger story to come. And boy did that taste make me crave more!
I liked it for several reasons, the first being the twist on the hero trope because Mikey is the Hero of Terrenos but, for spoilery reasons, one wonders if he’s a good guy and whether or not he is still a hero. He certainly is heroic and does not back down from a fight. In fact, he’s friggin badass and I love his character because he makes me think of sexy Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo in the Game of Thrones TV series. But heroic does not mean hero and just because he was prophesied to save one world does not mean he will save the one he’s originally from. I’m curious to see how this will all unfold.
I also liked that it reminds me of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway because it focuses on a character who visited a different world and has returned to the consequences of their disappearance. Those versed in fantasy stories know that time flows differently for each portal world. For some, time speeds up in comparison to the character’s “real” world. For others, time flows much slower. Mikey visited a world where time flows faster than his “real” world so when he exited, he is several years older than his older brother. (Mikey-from-the-portal-world looks about 30 years old to me. I can’t recall if the story says how old he is.) I like that we see both what happened to Mikey in Terrenos (he narrates this to his brother) and what became of his family after he disappeared.
The world Terrenos is also pretty interesting. There are monsters everywhere, Mikey’s guardian is a troll, and he is later introduced to bird people who press on him the importance of defeating the God King Lore. His companion in arms is a black girl with wings and soon after visiting Terranos, he’s chased by a Razorbeast, a fearsome monster. I was intrigued by it all and liked that both the events in Terrenos and in Mikey’s “real” world are interesting and important to the plot.
Though I haven’t yet read it, I bought the second volume soon after completing this one because I’m eager to see how events will unfold, especially considering the last page of this volume, and when or how Mikey’s secret will be revealed. I also hope that his mother will take on a larger, more positive role in the story. For now, she seems to be an antagonist and I’m curious to see where that will lead.
It’s okay. I wasn’t enthralled by it, but there were several illustrations that stood out to me, like the older Mikey when he’s angry or fighting, and the page featuring the five mages. Same too with the colors and the line work: it wasn’t outstanding, but I liked it.
The story will appeal to those interested in portal fantasy stories or just fantasy and adventure stories in general. The art is okay and is easy to follow.